87 how to replace your cars brakes

how to replace your cars brakes


By Jamie Rogers on 2018-11-08 11:20:28

We should start this by saying that replacing your car's brakes discs and pads, is a specialized job, sometimes requiring specialist tooling, and should only be carried out by a competent mechanic your life quite literally depends on these working as they should, every single time you press the brake pedal, getting it wrong could have disastrous consequences.

With that said, in the great scheme of car maintenance, it´s a relatively easy job, and as it is a regular thing, could save you some money in the long run.

Vehicles can differ significantly, this is an approximate guide

The Process

First of all, leave your car to cool down for a while if it has just been driven, the brakes will be hot, possibly hot enough to burn you. Make sure your workspace is clean, and that you´ve got the correct tools for the job. On that assumption

While the car is on the floor, loosen the wheel nuts slightly then jack the car up on all four corners to remove the road wheels. With the wheels removed, you´ll be able to see just what you´re dealing with. It goes without saying that all safety precautions should be adhered to, including the use of proper axle stands (don´t be tempted to use wood or bricks for these can crack).

The standard setup with most brake calipers is two bolts (one top and bottom) holding the caliper to a carrier bracket, which in turn is bolted to the hub assembly. In some case, you may need to remove both bolts, while with some other cars, it´s possible that one can be removed and the caliper pivoted on the second (although this does require the second bolt to be loosened).

With the caliper off/opened up, you should be able to slide the pads from the caliper, although be aware that some pads use a spring-steel inserted into the piston to hold them in place, so you can´t just slide them out, you need to push them away from the piston first. For the sake of argument, we´ll assume that you have already decided to replace the pads so we won´t get into wear limits, approximate mileage left ’– that´s entirely subjective, even between techs that have been in the industry for years.

Clean and Inspection

It´s at this point that you should visually inspect all the other parts of the braking system any rubber brake lines for signs of perishing, the disc for signs of wear or deep ruts/grooves, that all fasteners are tight ’– a general safety inspection.

It´s good practice to clean the caliper, bracket and mounting locations any dirt could affect the performance of the braking system. A soft wire brush does the job and won´t cause any damage. We would usually recommend running the wire brush around the edge of the disc (if it isn´t being replaced) to clean off any rust flakes also.

Don´t forget to clean inside the caliper where the pads sit their correct location is vital to ensuring the full efficiency of the brakes.

Reassembly

Before putting the new pads into the caliper, you´ll need to push the piston back to its starting point, or the disc won´t fit between them. Some pistons need special wind-back tools, whilst others can simply be pushed back. It´s also worth checking the fitment of the pad, and that they can move freely a pad that´s tight in the caliper could potentially stick.

Using a suitable grease like copaslip (something that can handle the higher temps and won´t drip off when warm), you need a thin layer on the pad edges (where they come into contact with the caliper) and on the back of the pad where they sit against the piston this is to help reduce the pad getting stuck, and in some cases, reduce noise that could be passed through the pad into the wheel assembly.

Some manufacturers use bolts with a patch adhesive, these, in theory, can be reused without any additional adhesive, although if you want to be sure, using some form of Loctite to ensure the security of the bolt is a worthwhile measure. You should also torque the bolt up to the specified manufacturer's settings

Once all for wheel corners are done, be sure to give the brake pedal a few presses to push the pads back into position before driving off.

Remember to torque all wheel nuts also a surprising number of people forget to tighten them correctly, only for them to work loose on their first test-run.

Safety First

Carrying out your own maintenance can be very satisfying, both in terms of knowing that you´ve did it yourself and that you´ve saved a few pounds in the process. You've also got the satisfaction of knowing that everything has been done as it should be, rather than rushed through a workshop by the apprentice on a bad day.

Investing in a quality toolset will help with any job, and if you don´t have the correct tools, there´s a good chance that what could be a relatively simple job could turn into something mammoth, and a good chance of injury skinned knuckles hurt!

As with anything, the more you practice, the better you become, but if you aren´t sure of anything, find someone that would be willing to give you some advice, or just keep a watchful eye over proceedings until you´re confident that you´ve got it right. Remember that with a car, it´s not just your life you´re risking.


The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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